Tim Bowness (Eng)

In addition to releasing six studio albums and a documentary dvd with no-man, Tim has worked with popular Italian artist Alice, Robert Fripp, Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine), OSI and Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera (amongst many others), and is a member of the bands Henry Fool, Memories Of Machines and Slow Electric.

Tim recorded the album Flame (1994) with Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree/ex-Japan), co-produced/co-wrote the acclaimed Talking With Strangers (2009) for Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention), and continues to collaborate with Peter Chilvers (Brian Eno/Karl Hyde).

He has also released three solo albums, My Hotel Year (2004), Abandoned Dancehall Dreams (2014) and Stupid Things That Mean The World (July 2015).

Since 2001, Tim has co-run the specialist online label/store Burning Shed with Pete Morgan.

1. When and why did you start making music - and what or who were your early influences?

I started making music in the early 1980s when I was 18, though I didn’t get my first deals and make my first albums until the early 1990s. 

One of the most influential albums for me when I began was Peter Hammill’s Over. It gave me the courage to be emotionally expressive, and also the belief that an audience could get something out of the deeply personal music I wanted to make. 
Outside of Hammill and Van Der Graaf, my earliest influences included Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Pete Townshend/The Who, Magazine, King Crimson, The Stranglers, Joy Division, Jethro Tull, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Mike Oldfield, The Beatles, John Barry and many others.
2. “Lost in The Ghost Light” is your 4th solo album, tell us about the recording and songwriting process.

It always starts from nothing and develops out of either playing with sounds or rhythms on the computer or strumming chords on the guitar. Usually, ‘something’ interests me and I become determined to see where that ‘something’ could lead. At a certain point, the creative itch seems scratched and I stop. It’s very instinctive, though the lyric writing, sound selection and subsequent production additions are clearly the result of afterthought and tinkering.
When I’m writing songs with others, they may well have a pre-composed instrumentals that I respond to vocally and then lyrically.

In the case of Lost In The Ghost Light, I used all the above plus gave specific instructions to my keyboard player Stephen Bennett, who co-wrote several songs with me.
I had a strong idea of what I wanted the album to sound like after coming up with the concept a few years back.
3. We listened to the track “You wanted to be seen”, why did you choose this one for the first videoclip?

Because I felt  it represented several of the musical elements of the album. It shifts from the serene to the apocalyptic, so I felt it was a nice snapshot of a few of the album’s qualities.

4. The album was mixed and mastered by Steve Wilson, how was working with him?

It’s always good. I’ve worked with Steven on and off since 1987 and it’s fair to say that we have a good understanding of one another’s personalities and tastes.

Steven mixed and mastered the album, which means that he helped with the audio balance of the music and the sonic quality of the finished result (both of which he’s a master at). He’s one of the best in the field and he also knows what I like to hear, so it was great to get him involved.


5. And you have many great musicians collaborating with you, like Steve Bingham (No-Man) or the legendary Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), how did you choose them?

Steve Bingham’s been my live violinist for years (both in and out of No-Man), so he was an automatic choice.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ian Anderson’s music since I first heard it in my early teens. I think he’s a wonderful and intelligent lyricist, a strong songwriter and a great player. A rare all-round talent. His playing on the piece Distant Summers was tremendous I thought, and I was delighted he was willing to be involved in the album. He was very positive about the finished song and that meant a lot too. I chose Ian Anderosn specifically for Distant Summers as the song details the early musical development of the musician Lost In The Ghost Light revolves around. As such, although it was part of the wider story, due to Ian’s involvement, there was some autobiography in there as well.
I chose Bruce Soord as the guitarist for this album as he’s a very direct and melodic player, which is exactly what I wanted for the album.
Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin is a tremendously versatile player and he’s been a part of my live band for the last few years.


6.  You have an extended career, work with many artist and you are a member of the bands Henry Fool, Memories Of Machines and Slow Electric. But it looks like it wasn’t enough for you and you need to put out all yourself in your solo project, right?

The solo career emerged by accident.

My solo album of 2014 (Abandoned Dancehall Dreams) started out as demos that I’d written for a new No-Man album. Steven Wilson didn’t have time to work on the material so suggested that he’d mix the songs for me if I developed them on my own. I originally put the album together as my idea of what a No-Man album could be. Stupid Things That Mean The World came out of that and accentuated the elements that I thought represented my musical identity.

With Lost In The Ghost Light, I was immersed in the concept behind the album (the backstage thoughts of a respected veteran musician struggling in the present day) and just got carried away with how to fully develop it. I didn’t think in terms of solo, No-Man, Henry Fool or otherwise, I just got on with the process of creating the music and lyrics.
7. How would you describe your own development as an artist?

It’s impossible for me to say. I just hope I’ve got better at what I do.

The one thing that has happened is that I tend to work on larger projects than I did. Having a more large-scale conceptual focus for specific albums has become more prevalent over the years.
8. Which music do you listen to in your free time?

Lots. I still actively buy and listen to music.

Many of my teenage favourites remain favourites (Hammill/Van Der Graaf, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Pete Townshend/The Who, Magazine, Fripp/King Crimson, David Bowie, The Beatles etc) and over the years I’ve discovered lots of Jazz, Classical, Rock, Ambient, and singer songwriter artists that I admire. My all time favourite artist is probably Joni Mitchell, but I’m always hearing new music and discovering old back catalogues that I was only vaguely aware of (see below).
9. What else do you want to do as an artist in your life?

To continue to be excited by what I do.


10.  Please recommend any artists to our readers.

In terms of new and undiscovered gems, I’d recommend Keaton Henson’s Romantic Works, which he describes as being DIY Classical. In some ways it’s like a more organic and fragile version of approaches by Brian Eno and Max Richter. I also liked the 2016 album by Ryley Walker, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. He’s a young-ish US based singer-songwriter who’s developed his sound out of influences from Bert Jansch, Tim Buckley and John Martyn, and taken these traditional approaches somewhere fresh (adding hints of Post-Rock production etc).

Prog Rock-wise, while making Lost In The Ghost Light discovered the back catalogue of The Strawbs (who I’d only been vaguely aware of previously) and really enjoyed some of the albums. Hero And And Heroine and Ghosts are really interesting and distinctive Symphonic Prog albums with hints of Gabriel’s Genesis and The Moody Blues.
11.  Are you going to play any release show? What about touring?

Hopefully, there will be a tour. I did a couple of shows with iamthemorning at the end of 2016 and we’d like to do more joint gigs. At the moment, I’m due to be a special guest at the UK version of the Marillion Weekend and I’m hoping to add more dates soon.

More so than the majority of what I do, Ghost Light would need a very disciplined, accurate and, possibly, theatrical approach. As such, more organisation than ever before. If there’s the interest in this happening, I’d love to play the album live.

Thanks a lot!
Fani Nadki

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